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Undergraduate courses

Dr Susan Deacy

Dr Susan Deacy

Principal Lecturer

Department of Humanities


I am especially interested in ancient the study of Greek gender and sexuality (including sexual and gender violence), and ancient Greek religion and mythology (especially Athena, followed by Herakles). Other interests include disability studies (including autism and classical mythology) and Georgian Classical Receptions (esp. chimneypieces). Current projects include: a co-authored book, with Fiona McHardy (Gendered violence in ancient Greece, contracted to Bloomsbury), a book using Athena to frame a study of various paradigms for the study of Greek myth (A Traitor to her sex? Athena the trickster, contracted to Oxford University Press) and a textbook on classical mythology (contracted to Routledge). I am the Series Editor of Gods and Heroes of the Ancient World and author of Athena for this series.  I am currently planning events to mark the 20th anniversary of Rape in Antiquity which I co-edited with Karen Pierce in 1997.  I have recently conducted HEA-funded research into 'Teaching Sensitive Subjects in the Classical Classroom'.  I blog on various aspects of the above in sites on autism and classical mythology and on who 'owns' classical mythology and plan to pull all this together into a single blog later this year. I have begun a blog connected to my research around Athena at The blog authored by myself and Dr McHardy disseminating research for the sensitive subjects project will go live soon at 

I was appointed Lecturer in Ancient Greek History and Literature at Roehampton in 2005, was promoted to Senior Lecturer in 2007 and became Principal Lecturer in 2011.  In 2010/11 I was Käthe-Leichter-Gastprofessorin für Frauen- und Geschlechterforschung at the University of Vienna. Before coming to Roehampton, I taught at the Universities of Wales, Keele, Leeds and Manchester.

I am happy to supervise PhD projects on any aspect of ancient Greek culture and its postclassical reception, especially in the areas of religion, mythology, disability, gender and violence.  I would be particularly keen to work with doctoral students on projects relating to sexual or gender violence, and on projects addressing the questions 'what is a god?' or 'what is a goddess?'. 

Recent and upcoming papers/lectures include:

Gender violence:

April 2013, Dublin: "Killing pregnant women: ancient Greek uxoricide in comparative perspective", UCD Classical Society Inaugural Lecture

Sept 2013, Aberystwyth: "Military values, masculine ethics and wartime rape", with F. McHardy, International Ancient Warfare Conference 2013

February 2014, Lisbon: "Ancient Greek sexual violence in comparative perspective", A Violência no Mundo Antigo e Medieval

May 2014, Gdansk: "Impiety, xoana and the hubris of Oilean Ajax ", The Religious Aspects of War

June 2014, Edinburgh: Panel, Forms of Violence, Forms of Hierarchy, co-organised with F. McHardy and N. Rabinowitz

Mythology/18th-century reception of antiquity:

June 2013, Leeds: "Virtue and Vice in the Adam Room, Grove House", Hercules: A Hero for All Ages

February 2014, Cambridge: "'Nothing like Roehampton...': Hercules and the Englishing of Greek myth"


April 2013, Reading: "How to teach sensitive subjects in the classical classroom", with Fiona McHardy, Panel: teaching classics, Classical Association conference (go to p. 13 of abstracts).  An updated version of this paper was delivered the 2013 HEA Teaching History conference.

April 2013, Roehampton: "Feedforward to enhance teaching, assessment and learning in Humanities or  'how does this postmodernist rubbish apply to my topic'?" - workshop led with Krisztina Robert, University of Roehampton Learning and Teaching Conference. A recast version of this workshop was delivered in Sept. 2013 at the HEA Teaching History conference (see above).

Other recent activities include the organisation of HEA-funded workshops on inclusivity and diversity (with Fiona McHardy) and neoclassicism (with Alannah Tomkins).  With Esther Eidinow and Jason Davies, I've recently launched TLAR: a Teaching and Learning Ancient Religion Network.  We held our inaugural meeting in Roehampton in November 2013 and will follow this up with a roundtable at the 2014 Classical Association conference.  I'm currently conducting work for the HEA on classical pedagogy, and presented the poster "It's all Greek to me: why every Jack needs a Giant" at this year's HEA Humanities conference on Monstrous Pedagogies.

Recent publications include:

'From "flowery tales" to "heroic rapes": virginal subjectivity in the mythological meadow', Arethusa 46.3 (Fall 2013): 395-413.

'Uxoricide in pregnancy: ancient Greek domestic violence in evolutionary perspective', with Fiona McHardy, Evolutionary Psychology 11.5: 994-1010.



Research projects undertaken

I am currently approaching the final stages of A traitor to her sex? Athena the Trickster . This book is about Athena as she was constructed by the Greeks. But it is more than this. I am using the 'vehicle' of Athena to appraise scholarship on Greek religion and mythology from the emergence of ancient religion as a subject for academic research through the –isms that constitute a trend in the history of scholarship e.g. historicism, functionalism, structuralism, feminism, comparatism. This broad focus makes it effectively a book about numerous of the 'greats' of scholarship some of whom have given Athena a significance approaching the paradigmatic: e.g. Bachofen, Harrison, Freud, Kerényi, Burkert, Vernant, Detienne, Irigaray, Loraux.

The table of contents is included here to give a flavour of my approach:
Chapter 1 Introduction
Chapter 2 The turning point: Athena and the functionalist paradigm
Chapter 3 Challenging the tyranny
Chapter 4 Something else
Chapter 5 The trickster
Chapter 6 Was Athena black?
Chapter 7 Performing gender
Chapter 8 'Everything is changed and yet the same': Athena's eyes
Chapter 9 Childhood
Chapter 10 Athena's other name
Chapter 11 Parricidal Athena
Chapter 12 The donor
Chapter 13 The helper maid
Chapter 14 Odysseus and his devotees
Chapter 15 Herakles
Chapter 16 Erichthonios

I am the Series Editor of Routledge's Gods and Heroes of the Ancient World, which was descried in May 2008 as 'uniformly excellent' by Robert Segal in Times Higher Education. My own book (Athena) was published in 2008. Recent publications include Aphrodite (Monica Cyrino) and Herakles (Emma Stafford).

Mythology and autism. This 'blue-skies' research, still at the planning stage, is envisaged as a collaborative project to research the educational benefits of teaching mythology to children within the autism spectrum.

I am currently undertaking co-authored research with Fiona McHardy (Roehampton) that will extend previous work by both of us on crime, rape and violence via an evolutionary biological approach to sexual violence. It will contribute to current debates in historical studies on violence as culturally conditioned vs biologically determined. Amongst the innovative aspects of this research are its examination of the applicability to classical scholarship of the work of Margo Wilson and Martin Daly.

I have played an active part in conference organisation including Violence and Power: An International Symposium on Rape in Antiquity (with K. Pierce, Cardiff 1994) and Athena in the Classical World (with A. Villing, Oxford 1998), which resulted in the volumes Rape in Antiquity (1997, 2001) and Athena in the Classical World (2000). Among the events I have organised at Roehampton are Gender and the Sacred in Cross-Cultural Perspective, held in 2008, which drew together scholars working in classics as well as other disciplines including religious studies, history of sexuality, and anthropology.

Membership of professional bodies

I served on the Hellenic Society Council 2000-3 and 2006-9. I am currently on the editorial board of Classical Association News, was on Classical Association Council  2004-9 and have been actively involved with local CA branches, including North Staffs, for whom I served as Secretary 2000-3. I am currently a member of the Standing Committee of the Council for University Classics Departments and edit its Bulletin. I have engaged in consultancy work for the Higher Education Academy as an Academic Associate.  I have the status of Fellow of the Higher Education Academy.

Consultancies undertaken

 'Supporting the work of the History Discipline Lead', June-July 2012.  Report and Strategic Plan for Classics (Sept 2012).

Teaching interests

I teach in the following areas: Ancient Greek religion; ancient Greek gender and sexuality; classical mythology; historiography; ancient Greek history; ancient Greek drama.

Evaluations for modules that I teach include comments such as 'enthusiastic teacher'; 'well organised lectures'; 'engaging lectures full of relevance'; 'I loved it; had a fantastic time and would warmly recommend and without reservation; Susan's enthusiasm is infectious'.  The Department of Humanities website includes a video of myself and students in class and talking about Classical Civilisation at Roehampton.

Along with my Classical Civilisation programme colleagues I became a Roehampton Teaching Fellow in 2008 'in recognition of excellence in learning and teaching'.

Taught courses


Classical Civilisation


Classical Research,
Religion and Gender MA,
Theology and Religious Studies MA





My list of publications below needs updating: please bear with me!


Athena (Gods and Heroes of the Ancient World series), Routledge 2008. 

A Traitor to her Sex? Athena the Trickster, Oxford University Press forthcoming.

Rape in Antiquity, with K. Pierce, Duckworth/Classical Press of Wales 1997.

Athena in the Classical World, edited by S. Deacy and A. Villing, Brill 2001.

Rape in Antiquity, edited by S. Deacy and K. Pierce, Duckworth 2002 [paperback edition with new preface].

The Impenetrability of Desire: Women's experience of sex and sexuality in ancient Greece, with M. Bachvarova, Cambridge University Press forthcoming.

'Athena in Boiotia: Local tradition and cultural identity', in J. Fossey ed., Boiotia Antiqua V. Studies on Boiotian Topography, Cults and Terracottas, Gieben 1995, 91-103.

'The Vulnerability of Athena: Parthenoi and rape in Greek myth', in S. Deacy and K. Pierce ed., Rape in Antiquity, Duckworth/Classical Press of Wales 1997, 43-63.

'Athena and the Amazons: Mortal and immortal femininity in Greek myth', in A. Lloyd ed., What is a God? Studies in the Nature of Greek Divinity, Duckworth/Classical Press of Wales 1997, 153-68.

'Athena and Ares: War, violence, and warlike deities', in H. van Wees ed., War and Violence in Ancient Greece, Duckworth/Classical Press of Wales 2000, 285-98.

 'Athena Past and Present: An introduction', with A. Villing, in S. Deacy and A. Villing, ed., Athena in the Classical World, Brill 2001, 1-25.

'Preface to the paperback edition', with K. Pierce, in Rape in Antiquity, Duckworth 2002, vii-xiv. 

'Athena Blues: Athena and colour in Ancient Greek myth and art', with A. Villing, in L. Cleland and K. Stears ed., Colour in the Ancient Mediterranean World, BAR International Series 1267 (2004), 85-90

'Herakles and his "girl": Heroism, Athena and beyond', in L. Rawlings, ed. Herakles and Hercules: Exploring a Graeco-Roman Divinity, Classical Press of Wales 2005, 37-50. 
'Series Editor's Foreword', to appear in each volume of the Gods and Heroes of the Ancient World series, 2005- (Volumes already published: Zeus, Medea, Prometheus, Dionysos, Oedipus; Athena, Perseus).

'Introduction: desire or rape?', in The Impenetrability of Desire: Women's experience of sex and sexuality in ancient Greece, Cambridge University Press forthcoming. 

''A flowery tale': Young women and heroic rape', in S. Deacy and M. Bachvarova, ed., The Impenetrability of Desire: Women's experience of sex and sexuality in ancient Greece, Cambridge University Press forthcoming.

'Famous Athens, Divine Polis: The religious system in Athens', in D. Ogden ed., Companion to Greek Religion, Blackwell 2007, 221-35.

'What was the colour of Athena's aegis?' with A. Villing, Journal of Hellenic Studies forthcoming 2009


D. Gera, Warrior Women. The Anonymous Tractatus De Mulieribus, Classical Review 50.1 (2000), 352-3 

M. Gimbutas, The Living Goddesses, Classical Review 50.2 (2000), 617-8 

E. Stafford, Worshipping Virtues: Personification and the Divine in Ancient Greece, JACT Review 33 (Summer 2003), 28 

L. Doherty, Gender and the Interpretation of Classical Myth, Bryn Mawr Classical Review 2003.08.02

N. Loraux, Born of Earth: Myth and Politics in Athens, Classical Bulletin forthcoming 

L. Llewellyn-Jones (ed.), Women's Dress in the Ancient Greek World, JACT Review, 2004

R. Rosenzweig, Worshipping Aphrodite, JACT Review 2005 

R. Rosenzweig, Worshipping Aphrodite: Art and Cult in Classical Athens, Classical Rewiew 57.1 (2007), 214-5 

S. Price and E. Kearns (ed), The Oxford Dictionary of Classical Myth and Religion, Bryn Mawr Review forthcoming 

J.B. Connelly, Portrait of a Priestess, Journal of Hellenic Studies forthcoming 2008

M. Munn. The Mother of the Gods, Athens and the Tyranny of Asia: A Study of Sovereignty in Ancient Religion, Hermathena forthcoming

H. Morales, Classical Mythology: A very short introduction, Classical Review forthcoming.

R.D. Woodford (ed.), The Cambridge Companion to Greek Mythology, Classical Review forthcoming.

Anthropomorphism . IV. Greco-Roman Antiquity' (470 words) in Encyclopedia of the Bible and Its Reception (EBR), Walter de Gruyter (2008–2017

 'Athena' (2380 words) in Encyclopedia of the Bible and Its Reception (EBR), Walter de Gruyter (2008–2017)

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